Publisher threatens legal action over patchesBy Chris Williams. Published: 4th Nov 2004, 03:19:39 | Permalink | Printable
Oh, as if a little communication is too much effortA developer has been threatened with possible legal action, after producing a 32bit compatibility patch for a commercial piece of software.
As astronomy package NightSky is currently 26bit only, software coder Colin Ferris announced that he's decided to independently produce some patches for Iyonix users to test. APDL's Dave Holden, as publisher of NightSky, swiftly informed Colin: "If I discover that anyone has given you a pirated copy of one of our programs or that you've hacked one of our programs and been so silly as to distribute anything I will be most unhappy, but my solicitor will be smiling."
Last month, Colin updated ImageFS2 to be 32bit compatible, although this was officially announced with CJE, the ImageFS2 publisher.
"I am serious. It is illegal to 'hack' commercial software. If someone has done something like this then the person they should approach should be me. If it's worthwhile then I might well be interested in purchasing it or paying a royalty on upgrade sales," ROL shareholder Dave Holden told drobe.co.uk. We haven't been able to get through to Colin at this time.
"If they release something based on illegal hacking of our software that pre-empts something we might wish to release and thus deprives ourselves and the original author of income then they could be liable to pay us damages."
Adding that he was surprised that Colin hadn't been in touch, Dave continued: "There is absolutely no point in us investing thousands of pounds on work on our software if someone else feels they can just release free updates based on our copyright work making it impossible for us to recover our investment."
Without a doubt, the RISC OS market needs software, and we can't afford to lose any by the wayside as the market shifts to newer, modern architectures. In the case of some software, the exact details of who owns what and if the current maintainers even have the source code, let alone want to update it, remains unclear. It's therefore natural to expect a few frustrated developers to 'lend a hand' to keep some titles up to date, and in the past this has been especially true for games.
However, as particular dealers (such as CJE and APDL) begin rescuing older software, there's always the potential for some trodden toes. And to think, a little communication could prevent the eagerness of those who want to see the market continue clashing with the realities of financial survival of others.
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